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Singapore – on hotels and taxis

Singapore – on hotels and taxis

There are two sides to how Singapore presents itself. The super expensive side with (probably) excellent service for the rich and the highly overpriced sector with medium to appallingly bad service for average pockets. This is how accommodation for the tourist can be classified.

Since we knew that Singapore was going to be expensive we were prepared to pay a lot more than what we usually intend to spend on hotels. We were even a bit frantic to enjoy a bit of Singapore’s luxuries and splash out on a superb room. However, having found a cheaper place with excellent descriptions and nice photos while browsing through the net we thought ourselves lucky, booked online and ended up in a hostel that featured a room for 75S$ without en suite facilities. For that price and with more people using it we were sure that a shared bathroom must be very well taken care off. Wrong. With a major hygiene neglect, I won’t get into details or you will puke, we did not use it. Unfortunately dodgy standards also applied to the room, that has never seen a vacuum cleaner nor a bed sheets change but presented a gross filthy floor, falling apart furniture and trash from previous visitors sill lying around. We left first thing in the morning.

After that we applied our usual ‘get the flight then look around for a hotel in person’ strategy. That way we also check on the sound proofness of the room, noisy generators or air conditioning systems, next door disco clubs, that surprisingly seem to only bother the fewest. Maybe we are different in a way that perpetual traveling means looking for a home and quiet workplace rather than short term touristy stop. Anyway, we were not the only ones hotel hopping as we met the same people asking for rooms at nearby hotels.

Hotels generally start at about 200S$ and the rooms we have looked at were not what you would expect in return. We walked into about 10 hotels and inspected their rooms. One hotel even refused to have a glimpse of their facilities: “We don’t show rooms before the booking!” was their motto. For a reason, I guess. Most hotels were seriously aged, some rooms did not have a window or were so tiny there was hardly room for our suitcases, the majority with no inclusive breakfast. Singapore is not a backpackers place. In fact, well off middle class will be surprised how little comfort Singapore offers for their wallet.

The second place we found after a whole day of just looking around at frustratingly overpriced rooms, was (again) a hostel room but we liked the huge windows and generous room size (for Singaporian standards), so we compromised on two separate beds for what sounded like a ‘bargain’ after our hotel search. There was just no decent place to splash out (regarding 200S$ a night a generous hotel payment limit). The rate was 145S$ after a discount (for which we had to issue an international hostel card). The rooms were very basic and what we discovered later: moldy smell coming from the aircon that was additionally so loud we couldn’t sleep the first night – the low pitched noise went right through our earplugs. The windows were locked. They were reluctantly opened by staff upon our request. But, as the receptionist briefed us: “We do not encourage our guests to open the windows due to safety reasons.” Maintenance told us that we cannot turn the aircon off because it is a very old centralized system.

Last remark on costs: the hostel was a bit remote located on a hill, we did not fancy walking back to town again, so we had spaghetti at their restaurant, which was 26 $S per dish not having added the 10% service and 7% tax charge. Accordingly, the hostel client̬le did not look like what you would normally see at youth hostel type accommodation: average prosper middle class. Looking at tourism stats compiled by the Singapore Tourism Board, coming into Singapore are mainly Asian low wage workers and visitors from Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea, China, Australia, the UK and USA Рnot surprisingly, countries with money and/or business ties.

Taxis. Getting a taxi in Singapore is easy, you can flag one down by the street just like in any other city. They are metered but have a confusing customer system. We had the weirdest taxi experience when we arrived at our destination after a wrong turn and helping the driver with directions but still only a five minute drive (Singapore is small), the car had stopped, we were ready to pay the shown fare on display, when suddenly the taxi driver pushed some buttons and the fare doubled! Not one word on any additional charges beforehand. We were very amazed, asked for a receipt, paid and were looking for an explanation. In Singapore the taxi fare will dramatically change on the time of day and city zones, which you might not even know you have crossed. On top to the usual distance-fare you might end up paying some extra taxi pocket lining. With a good bus and train alternative we did not have to invest in that strange taxi philosophy too much :)


Going up the hill with a bit of shopping. Definitely not taking the approaching taxi.

Singapore taxi


Nice picture of the hostel terrace but you can’t hear the noise coming from huge generators on that same roof creating jumbo jet noise. Impossible to work or relax – people came to smoke and leave, one guy played nintendo covering his ears with headphones – hotel planning wasted such a great lookout space.

Hangout@Mt Emily hostel in Singapore


This was exactly like our 145S$ room (found the picture on the internet).

Hangout@Mt Emily hostel in Singapore


The world’s most expensive hotel, the Marina Bay Sands Hotel, posing in the background.

Singapore Marina Bay Sands Hotel


Marina Bay Sands boasts 57 stories, 2500 rooms and the incredible infinity pool – reserved for hotel guests. Visitors can enjoy the view on a small designated area for an entrance fee of 20 S$ per person.

Singapore Marina Bay Sands Hotel


Tomek ascending to the 58th floor.

Singapore Marina Bay Sands Hotel


There was an official photography team on site that would walk around taking pictures of people at the deck, then nicely wrap it up and present a ready framed souvenir at the exit. We somehow resisted to pay another 20S$ for a photo of ourselves, like that man, who asked Tomek to be his photographer.

Singapore Marina Bay Sands Hotel


And this one Tomek took of me holding on to the giant Ferris wheel with my right hand.

Singapore Marina Bay Sands Hotel


Looking onto more Singapore style entertainment architecture to come from the observation deck.

Singapore Marina Bay Sands Hotel


Airy inside. A women actually died that day after falling 60 stories from another Singapore hotel. Airy outside.
Palm trees, the ultimate pool and city view.
Singapore Marina Bay Sands Hotel Singapore Marina Bay Sands Hotel


Mindblowing architecture – the ship sails above the plane.

Singapore Marina Bay Sands Hotel

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  1. Sadly, the hotels in Singapore are really not that great unless you are looking at small boutique hotels which are not that convenient or international chain hotels. Marina Bay Sands rates are generally about S$400 per night, but it’s worth to stay just one night for the experience, the infinity pool has a really gorgeous nice view of Singapore at night :)

    • Hello SJ! To have a Marina Bay Sands experience you don’t have to book a costly night at all. Anyone can use the infinity pool and the huge lookout platform on top of that hotel for a small fee (20S$ for the platform, don’t remember how much it was for the pool) which is what we did and frankly, looking at all the guests crammed in the small infinity pool from the platform, I am not sure if it is worth it :)

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